Western Ghats: Kerala seeks more time from the Centre to remap ESAs

The maps show redefined ecologically sensitive areas in the 123 villages that were identified by K Kasturirangan committee on conservation of Western Ghats

By M Suchitra
Published: Monday 19 May 2014

western ghats

The Congress-led Kerala government has requested the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to grant some more time to receive objections and suggestions on the revised Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) maps that have been posted online by the ministry. These maps, which have the redefined territorial extent of the ESAs in the 123 villages in Kerala (identified by the K Kasturirangan committee for conservation of the Western Ghats) after objections made by the state government, have been published on the website of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB).

The state has sought an extension of 60 days, starting May 9 which was earlier decided as the deadline to receive objections on the draft notification. In March this year, the government had published a new map that was based on a study by a three-member state panel headed by Oommen V Oommen, the Kerala State Biodiversity Board chairperson. The new map excluded human settlements, plantations and agricultural land from the ESAs originally identified by Kasturirangan committee in April 2013. Out of the 13,108 square kilometres then identified, the state panel had excluded 3,115 sq km. According to Oommen V Oommen, the revised village-level maps were prepared after intensive consultations with the village panchayats, biodiversity management committees and people.

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Giving in to demands from Kerala, the MoEF on March 18 this year had issued a draft notification, exempting about 3,000 sq km identified by the Kerala panel from the ESA and had given a period of 60 days to complete the process of remapping. The map which was then posted online last week has received some individual complaints and suggestions on ESAs. The state, according to the KSBB chairperson, needs more time to receive complaints, verify and make changes accordingly.

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